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Confusion in the legal process

THE WORK of Slovak MPs who often change laws via paragraphs added to unrelated laws is causing legal uncertainty and chaos, the Pravda daily reported on February 26.

Earlier in February, for example, parliament changed the collective bargaining law to allow union contracts to be extended to all firms in a particular sector. This important change was contained in a paragraph in the unrelated Tripartite Act.

The confusion that arises from this kind of lawmaking is making life difficult not only for judges and lawyers but also for entrepreneurs, accountants and other office staff.

In order to find out what laws actually apply in a given case, they are forced to wade through dozens of unrelated legal documents.

According to Bratislava entrepreneur Vladimír Just, hardly anyone knows their way around the law these days.

"The principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse no longer applies in Slovakia," he said. "My accountant is very thorough, but in order to make sure, she now has to buy and read all laws, not only those related to taxes."

The opposition has protested the way the government is getting its laws passed, suggesting that the coalition is using the tactic to achieve changes with the minimum of debate and criticism. However, it isn't about to take the matter to the Constitutional Court, as the previous Mikuláš Dzurinda government employed similar tactics when it was in power.

"Such practices don't violate the Constitution directly, but they do have an extremely negative impact on the principle of legal certainty, on which the rule of law is based," said constitutional lawyer Radoslav Procházka.

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